New nanolaser produced

Published in The Hindu on August 17, 2009

The world’s smallest laser that is 10 times smaller than the wavelength of light has been produced. Scientists have called it a ‘spaser.’

Spaser stands for Surface Plasmon Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This comes nearly 50 years since lasers were first created.

Spaser are capable of producing laser-like light.

But the way the laser and spaser produce light is totally different. While the conventional laser amplifies light, a spaser amplifies only the surface plasmons — tiny oscillations in the density of free electrons on the surface of metals.

Scientists had first proposed the spaser concept six years ago. A spaser is the smallest possible quantum amplifier and generator of optical fields on the nanoscale.

Writing in the Nature, Mikhail Noginov from the Norfolk State University in Virginia and his team state that they were able to produce laser-like light by stimulating the emission of surface plasmons on a gold nanoparticle and amplifing them.

The success opens up great opportunities and possibilities. It represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on ‘nanophotonic’ circuitry.

A Purdue University release states: nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful “hyperlenses” resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today’s and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors.

Writing in the journal Nature, Mikhail Noginov from the Norfolk State University in Virginia notes: “now [that] it has been realised experimentally, the spaser will advance our fundamental understanding of nanoplasmonics and the development of practical applications.”

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